The White House nixed President Biden’s Super Bowl interview with Fox after the network had already flown its television crew from Los Angeles to Washington to tape an agreed-upon sit-down with the commander-in-chief.
A person familiar with the discussions said the Fox Soul was blindsided by White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s statement on Friday that the interview had been scuttled, just one day after the administration pitched the outlet last minute to conduct the pre-game interview.
“The crew that was agreed upon was sent from LA to Washington, D.C and had every expectation to do the interview,” the person, who requested anonymity to discuss the matter, told The Washington Times.
The baffling saga began after the White House reached out to the network on Thursday to set up the pre-game interview with Fox Soul, the live-streaming platform that caters to Black viewers, after weeks of back and forth over conducting the interview with Fox News.
Networks carrying the Super Bowl have traditionally scored interviews with presidents that air ahead of the game. Those interviews are regularly taped on the Friday before the Sunday kickoff.
Mr. Biden recorded pre-Super Bowl interviews with CBS and NBC in his first two years in office but has maintained an icy relationship with Fox News, a subsidiary of Fox, the network carrying this year’s National Football League title game.
Fox Soul immediately agreed to the interview after the White House reached out on Thursday, tapping Fox Sports Host Mike Hill and Vivica A. Fox for the sit-down, while still being under the impression that the White House was continuing to negotiate a separate pre-game interview with Fox News.
Just before taking off on Friday, a representative from Fox Soul emailed the White House to say that its crews were about to take off, and stated in the email that Fox Soul would not be able to complete the interview unless the President also sat down with Fox News.
Soon after that email was sent, Ms. Jean-Pierre blamed the network for canceling the interview.
“The president was looking forward to an interview with Fox Soul to discuss the Super Bowl, the State of the Union and critical issues impacting the everyday lives of Black Americans,” Ms. Jean-Pierre posted on Twitter. “We’ve been informed that Fox Corp. has asked for the interview to be canceled.”
The person familiar with the exchange said the network had not asked for the interview to be canceled. The company also made clear that Fox Soul had the green light to do the interview regardless of whether the president agreed to sit down with Fox News.
Fox followed Ms. Jean-Pierre’s post with a statement confirming that the interview was on despite “some initial confusion” after the White House contacted Fox Soul on Thursday.
Fox Soul “looks forward to interviewing the President for Super Bowl Sunday,” the statement read.
Those efforts to were to no avail, and the White House has since stuck by its original statement that Fox canceled the interview.
“FOX Soul informed us yesterday that FOX Corp would not allow them to interview the President unless the President agreed to do a second interview, which we had already declined,” a White House spokesperson told The Times. “FOX made the decision to cancel their interview with the President, not us.”